By Rohan Pavuluri
July 16, 2016
“Hi Rohan,” Giuseppe told me over the phone. “I don’t think I properly thanked you earlier today. I don’t have anything right now. But I’d like to make a donation in a few weeks. When I’m back on my feet.”
I fell silent.
We met Giuseppe for the first time this past Monday. He wanted to file bankruptcy but couldn’t find anyone to help him. He didn’t have money to pay for a private attorney. A legal aid clinic had turned him down because he didn’t have any assets that creditors could take. When his nonprofit financial counselor told him about our service, he decided to give us a call.
“The creditors. They’re the worst on Sunday mornings. They won’t stop calling me,” Giuseppe explained when he came into our Brooklyn office.
Giuseppe had a simple case. Within an hour of walking into our office, Giuseppe completed our digital survey. In doing so, he had completed almost all the work he needed to become debt free.
As he left, Giuseppe explained how he ended up in debt. He used to own and operate a tuxedo rental store, which he hoped to sell for his retirement funds. When the time came to sell, however, Giuseppe’s buyer ran the business into the ground and, as a result, never made enough money to pay Giuseppe the full amount.
The last six weeks have been the most meaningful of my life. On June 1st, I showed up in New York City with a hypothesis. Technology could transform the way low-income Americans got a second chance at financial livelihood.
A couple weeks later, chance put me in touch with a lawyer who shared my hypothesis. A couple weeks after that, we started Upsolve.
Since then, Jonathan and I have seen promising signs we were right. We’ve started filing petitions and begun to iterate on our product. We’ve received inbound traffic through our digital ads on Google and Facebook.
We’re also lucky to have received referrals from nonprofit stakeholders throughout the city—like Legal Hand and the Financial Clinic. And we’re grateful to have partnered with the New York State Court System.
Most of all, we feel lucky to have crossed paths with Giuseppe and the others who have used our product.